Brothers sentenced for smuggling meth into US

Docs: Drugs hidden near brake equipment


McALLEN — Port officers found more than just brake equipment when they conducted a careful search of a pickup truck trying to enter the U.S.

Jose Manuel Rios-Rodriguez and his younger brother, Juan Guadalupe Rios-Rodriguez, from Mexico were sentenced earlier this week to five years each for their role in an attempt to smuggle meth into the country.

U.S. District Judge Randy Crane on Wednesday handed down 63-month prison terms for both brothers in connection with their May 22 arrest at a port of entry, court records show.

In August, both men pleaded guilty to federal import charges, in exchange the government agreed to dismiss three additional federal charges they faced.

The brothers were arrested at the Roma port of entry after trying to enter the country inside a Chevy pickup truck, which was registered to Juan Guadalupe Rios-Rodriguez, court notes show.

The pair, after negative declarations of any contraband, were sent to secondary inspection where U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers discovered packages toward the back of the pickup truck that were next to “vehicle brake equipment,” the complaint states.

Officers removed four packages that contained a white powdery substance, which later tested positive for methamphetamine.

“The packages had a total weight of approximately 3.34 kilograms,” the document states.

After waiving his rights, Juan Guadalupe Rios-Rodriguez, 23, and the driver of the pickup truck, agreed to speak to U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations agents.

Juan Guadalupe Rios-Rodriguez said he had made arrangements with two unidentified men in Mexico to transport the illicit drugs into the U.S. in exchange for $2,000, the complaint states.

Jose Manuel Rios-Rodriguez, 30, told agents he was going to receive $1,000 to help his younger brother smuggle the meth into the country, adding that he helped his brother conceal the meth inside the pickup truck.

“Juan Rios-Rodriguez and Jose Rios-Rodriguez were placed under arrest and transported to the Starr County jail to await their initial appearances before the United States Magistrate Judge in McAllen, Texas,” the record shows.

Because the brothers lack legal authority to remain in the U.S., supervised release conditions were not set for them. They most likely will be deported upon completion of their more than five-year prison terms.

Juan Guadalupe Rios-Rodriguez was represented by Edinburg-based attorney Eloy I. Hernandez, and Jose Manuel Rios-Rodriguez was represented by Edinburg-based attorney Sergio J. Sanchez, court notes show.

The government was represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney David A. Lindenmuth.